Communications & Media

Scholarship provides welcomed backing for young researcher

Being the recipient of the 2017 Rhonda Ewart Honours Scholarship in Dementia Care is both a great honour for Alexander Cronk and a major boost to his research efforts.

The second, annual recipient of the $5,000 scholarship which was introduced as part of the University’s 125th anniversary, the Bachelor of Biotechnology and Medical Research (Hons) student is studying Alzheimer’s disease under the supervision of Associate Professor Anna King, at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre.

Mr Cronk said the scholarship gave him the backing to spend more time on his research, which was investigating how changing the skeleton of neurons alters movement in the cell and if this is a possible mechanism in developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

“Receiving the Rhonda Ewart Scholarship has been an amazing privilege, which has allowed me to reduce my outside employment to a minimum,” he said.

“By reducing my working commitments I have been able to invest my time and energy into my research to make the most out of this year and to hopefully get significant results.”

Raised in Hobart and having a strong interest in biology and science in high school, Mr Cronk came to the University of Tasmania in 2014, graduating last year with a Bachelor of Biotechnology and Medical Research.

“Through studying at the University of Tasmania I honed my interest into medical research, especially research into neurobiology and anatomy,” he said.

“I have enjoyed my time so far researching with the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre and continuing research into neurodegenerative diseases could be a perspective pathway to follow as a career.

“I am certainly considering undertaking a PhD and continuing with Wicking would be amazing.”

A University of Tasmania staff member, Rhonda Ewart said her personal experience with her mother who had Alzheimer’s disease moved her to introduce the scholarship in 2015, to support research towards finding a cure for the debilitating disease

Ms Ewart said it was wonderful to see young people wanting to carry out Alzheimer’s research.

“Alzheimer’s is discussed so much now and our students are becoming more attuned to the disease as well,” she said.

“I think at this stage it is going to require a big effort from all of us to find a cure.

Mr Cronk said he was grateful for the opportunity to meet Ms Ewart and thank her for her support.

“I’ve met with Rhonda twice now and each time has been a privilege, she is an amazing lady, who is incredibly kind and generous,” he said.

“I think it is great she has an interest in meeting with her scholarship recipients and wants to know how we are and how our work is progressing.

“The University certainly is lucky to have Rhonda and her input.”


Published on: 24 Aug 2017 3:47pm